Congress leader Sachin Pilot opened discussions today around his chances of becoming chief minister of Rajasthan if Ashok Gehlot becomes Congress president. “It’s not up to me. It’s up to the top command of the party,” he said when asked if he agreed with the idea that Mr Gallot should not hold both positions.
“Who’s going to lead, who’s going to work in what position, all of those decisions are going to be made by congressional leadership. Neither Mr. Gallot, or me, or any leader in any state…there’s no debate or rebuttal on that. ” he told NDTV, speaking at next year’s state polls.
To date, Mr. Gehlot has maintained that there is no obstacle for anyone to hold multiple positions.
“Look, the party election process is going on and anyone can submit a nomination. No other party, not the BJP, has such a process,” Sachin Pilot said, before proceeding to demand that Rahul Gandhi be president again a post.
Rajasthan is one of several state legislature units that passed a resolution asking Mr Gandhi to retake the post he left after losing the 2019 general election. Sonia Gandhi has served as interim head since then, having served for more than 20 years.
With the family wanting a non-Gandhi, and with Ashok Gehlot, 71, the clear front-runner – who is almost certain to take on a national role in Delhi – the focus has shifted to Rajasthan, where Sachin, 45 Pilot lost the post of Deputy Chief Minister in Rajasthan. Coup attempt in 2020. He stayed in the party, waiting for his turn.
Rajasthan will vote late next year, just six months ahead of the Lok Sabha race. Mr Pilot made this repeatedly: “I believe we have to win the states to pave the way for success in 2024. And Rajasthan is an important state and we have been winning and losing with the BJP. This time we did the job , and have to work harder in the final year to win.”
He was cautious about direct questions from his previous appointment as chief minister, “In 2018, the MLAs decided and the party decided who was the leader. We complied…it’s still our position. I’ve conveyed what needs to be done to win the country. Everything is handed over to the High Command.”
“I don’t want to answer hypothetical questions,” he added. “Let’s wait for the nomination process for party elections. There are two to three days left,” Mr Pilot added.
Nominations will be submitted from September 24 to 30 and more than 9,000 delegates – the All India Electoral College – will vote on October 17.
As for Ashok Gehlot’s latest move, he will meet Sonia Gandhi in Delhi today before flying out to join Rahul Gandhi’s Yatra, although he will only arrive after Mr Pilot has left.
Last night – with Sachin Pilot outside the city – Mr Gallot called a party MLA meeting and told them he would submit the party chairman nomination “but not far from you”. “I’m not going anywhere, don’t worry,” he learned to say.
Speaking to reporters today, he was more explicit about the two positions: “I personally don’t want any positions anymore… But, for example, if a minister becomes party chairman, he doesn’t have to give up being a minister. “
He did agree with Mr Pilot on at least one point that he would try to persuade Rahul Gandhi to take over as party chairman “one last time”.
Shashi Tharoor is also in the race, but Mr Gehlot has a distinct advantage as a loyal supporter of the Gandhi family. Mr Tharoor was one of 23 senior leaders who called for reforms within the party in a 2020 letter to Sonia Gandhi.